Did the White House “threaten” the media over Joe Biden’s impeachment?

Last week, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy announced an official impeachment investigation into President Joe Biden related to his son Hunter Biden’s business dealings.

House Republicans have spent months examining bank statements, emails and other documents for information that could link the president to his son’s financial ventures abroad.

The controversy surrounding the impeachment inquiry has also prompted an extraordinary intervention from the White House, according to Florida Republican congressman Matt Gaetz, who threatened journalists not to report on the inquiry.

Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden speaks at the United Nations General Assembly Head’s Reception at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City on September 19, 2023. Florida Republican Rep. Matt Gaetz claimed the White House threatened the US media not to cover the president’s impeachment inquiry.
JIM WATSON/AFP via Getty Images

The claim

A contribution to Xformerly Twitter, by Matt Gaetz, on September 14, 2023, viewed 234,500 times, claimed the White House threatened the media over coverage of the Joe Biden impeachment inquiry.

“The White House is directly trying to stop media outlets from reporting on Joe Biden’s corruption,” Gaetz wrote.

“They want no mention of the banking records, travel logs, devices, communications, bribes and more that form this massive grounds for impeachment.”

The tweet included an interview with Gaetz on Newsmax in which the congressman said the White House was trying to “censor” the story.

“Do you remember when the Hunter Biden disinformation letter came out?” Gaetz said.

“We had the laptop that had all this evidence of corruption on it and the White House, the Department of Homeland Security and the FBI.

“They all tried to get media companies to censor it. And look, this is the same play they’re doing again.”

“But now they don’t want any coverage of the corruption, the bank records, the travel logs, the devices, the communications, the threats, the bribes, all of the things that make up the evidence for this massive case we have.”

“They’re trying to really deter reporting by sending a threat from the White House. That’s something really special.”

The facts

Gaetz’s claim that the White House threatened journalists is false.

The mentioned memo was sent to US news organizations on September 12, 2023 by Ian Sams, Special Assistant to the President and Senior Advisor and Spokesman
for the Office of the White House Counsel, regarding the impeachment inquiry.

However, the memo contains no threats to cover impeachment. Instead, it details the White House’s concerns about the investigation itself.

It contains a series of official statements from Republicans who doubt the quality or lack of evidence in the impeachment inquiry and reiterates the White House’s position that the reasons for the inquiry are “baseless.”

“It is time for the media to step up its scrutiny of House Republicans heading into the opening
an impeachment inquiry based on lies,” the memo said.

“If even House Republican members admit that there is simply no evidence that Joe Biden has done anything wrong, let alone that he could be impeached, that should set off alarm bells among news organizations.”

While the letter encouraged reporters to investigate House Republicans for launching the probe, it does not contain any threat of censorship, injunctions or other tools the White House would use to restrict journalists’ rights to cover impeachment proceedings .

The White House believes there are no grounds, but there is nothing in the memo threatening journalists with “bank records, travel logs, devices, communications, bribes and more that make up this massive argument for impeachment,” as Gaetz claims mention.

Newsweek has cocontacted a Matt Gaetz and White House media representative via email seeking comment.

The regulation



The White House memo did not threaten journalists for reporting on the Biden impeachment inquiry.

The memo, sent on September 12, encouraged US news organizations to closely scrutinize House Republicans for an opening
an impeachment inquiry, adding there was no evidence to support an investigation.

However, it did not contain threats to journalists not to cover the story, as Gaetz claimed.

FACT CHECK BY Newsweek’s fact checking team

Rick Schindler

Rick Schindler is a Worldtimetodays U.S. News Reporter based in Canada. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Rick Schindler joined Worldtimetodays in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing: RickSchindler@worldtimetodays.com.

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